Smartphones, they’ve come a long way since the 1992 IBM Simon. What we used in the early stages of mobile phone development to call, text (and, let’s admit it, play Snake) has now become a phone, camera and small computer on which users can literally do anything and everything they want. Take driving, learning a new language and the occasional bit of retail therapy, of course. With approximately 1.85 billion smartphone users worldwide in 2015, (a figure expected to reach as much as 2.08 billion in 2016 according to Statista) it’s obvious that the smartphone epidemic isn’t going to stop anytime soon. If early commerce on mobile phones was oriented towards the purchase of ringtones, logos and songs, its focus now lies on the acquisition of products and services such as clothes, beauty products and home & living. Today, sellers consequently dispose of additional channels to attract customers to their (e)shops. In France, the Mobile Marketing Association predicts 22 million mobile phones to be sold this year, and as more than one half of the people in the country are browsing the internet solely on their smartphones, mobile phones are an opportunity too good for sellers to pass up. But how is mobile commerce in France progressing compared to other countries? What are the country’s promising sectors and why is this particular sector important for the future? Hopefully, you should have the responses you’re looking for by the end of this blogpost.
The transformation of e-commerce with mobile commerce in France and abroad
The revolution of traditional commerce started in the 90’s with the launch of the internet, and consequently a few years later, with the development of e-commerce. This revolutionary way of doing commerce allowed sellers not only to sell products from their stores, but also target a wider audience, locally and globally, and with a wider product offering. Since the launch of Stylight.fr back in 2012, the number of products available on the site has increased more than eightfold, rising from 118K to 926K in 2016.
In addition to e-commerce, the revolution of smartphones enabled sellers to use mobile phones as an additional tool to increase their business. M-commerce was thus born. Today, m-commerce is a major focus for the global e-commerce industry. With an inflation of 43.5% in mobile traffic on its platform during Q1 2016 compared to the same period last year, Stylight confirms this notion that consumers are increasingly shopping online through their mobile devices.
In terms of revenue, over the last few years, m-commerce has represented a considerable part of e-commerce companies’ turnover. However, France is not the only country where mobile commerce has considerably been growing: a global study conducted by the digital marketplace RetailMeNot revealed that in 2015, 44.9 billion (20%) of the total online expenses in Europe were done via a mobile device. Comparing the average number of euros spent in 2015, RetailMeNot also claims that the top 4 global markets for m-commerce were the UK (732 €), USA (678 €), Germany (659 €), and France (522 €). One reason that could potentially explain these figures is the fact that local industries for these markets always try to be more innovative. They also did their best to adapt as quickly as possible to customer’s needs, and more importantly to listen to what their customers had to say.
M-commerce does not mean the end of offline shopping
The majority of people picture m-shoppers spending their days with their eyes fixed firmly onto their smartphones. But well, that’s not necessarily the case. True, m-commerce has had a significant impact on how consumers purchase products offline. According to a study conducted last year by Google and Ipsos, nearly half of French mobile users admit that the information found on their smartphone whilst they’re in a store influences the purchase of a product. Aside from using their smartphone to compare prices, check for available discounts or for product availability, consumers are increasingly using them in order to pay online, directly from a store. And yes, even though consumers are still reluctant in using m-payment, there is no doubt that the industry will focus on reassuring people in terms of this method’s security, showing them the benefits to be gained.
In France, m-commerce rarely involves only one device. Today, a significant number of online transactions involve multiple devices. According to Criteo, French people are more likely to use multiple devices in path to purchase a product when they purchase via a smartphone (50%) or tablet (51%) than via desktop (46%). Multiple device appears as a critical matter for Stylight, who has understood pretty quickly that a single website was not enough. As a result, the platform now encompasses apps on iOS, Android and tablet (for more information on the Stylight app, have a look here). Consequently, if companies want to maximize their chances of selling to customers, they need to ensure that they have a dedicated desktop and mobile website as well as an iOs and Android app.
But most importantly, all of their products should be displayed on each and every channel. Shopping on multiple devices is practiced by a large part of the population, consumers expect to find no difference between the products they find on a brand’s website compared to its tablet version. The shopping experience should remain the same, despite the device consumers use.
Fashion: a prosperous sector for m-commerce
With 5.4 billion euros of revenue for fashion e-commerce in France last year (FEVAD), one could ask himself if fashion also represents a major sector of revenue for m-commerce. The 2015 Criteo Fashion Flash Report demonstrated that 33% of global purchases are coming from mobile devices, and that 43% of fashion shoppers use multiple devices on the path to purchasing a product. Globally, there is no doubt that fashion represents a significant sector for m-commerce. The answer to why fashion represents such a large m-commerce vertical lies in its development in the e-commerce industry. Being able to shop one’s product directly from a screen has marked a revolution in traditional shopping, as it enables e-shoppers to discover more products, to compare offers without having to go to a physical store and, to also have their order delivered right to their door. As they sometimes appear as less biased than a salesperson’s advice, consumer’s reviews are also highly acknowledged by e-shoppers. When smartphones became so popular, consumers expected to be able to do the same from their smartphone as they were from their computer.
Fashion m-commerce is already taking the next steps. If fashion brands were reluctant to mobile commerce before, they’ve now come to embrace it. Even if a lot of effort has already been put in over the years to unify the shopping experience from one device to another, the challenge consists on bringing to m-consumers all the shopping experience offered via a store directly to their smartphone.
Though, it would be wrong to say that fashion m-commerce means the end of real stores. The future of fashion is at the same time digital and physical: it’s been proven that fashion online sales have increased the number of offline sales too.
What will happen to mobile commerce this year?
In Europe, the B2C e-commerce turnover forecast is expected to reach 500 billion euros in 2016, according to the association Ecommerce Europe. The four top global m-commerce markets (e.g UK, USA, Germany and France) should remain leads. As other e-commerce leaders, Stylight will keep developing new tools to facilitate the user’s experience. More customer-friendly as well as transaction-driving apps will be developed in the upcoming years, to go from a device-focused strategy to a people-focused one.
Locally, m-commerce sales in France will undoubtedly keep increasing next year. The average basket per consumer will keep increasing too, as competition will become more intense. The number of couponing websites and sales available online will enable consumers to have more purchasing power; consumers will no longer be spectators, but rather play the role of their own shopping experience. M-payment will also keep increasing, as sellers will find more ways to reassure consumers. The number of mobile payments should then eventually catch up with the number of purchases done via a computer.
Fashion m-commerce will remain one of the major verticals in the future, and beauty as well as home & living won’t be that far behind. These sectors have been foreseen to be significant ones, and it goes without saying that the m-commerce industry should focus on them. Now present in the four most promising m-commerce countries in the world, the home & living products available on Stylight are expected to be implemented in more and more of its platforms in 2016.
And last but not least, social media will play a huge role in the mobile purchasing process, as brands will continue to find new ways to reach out to potential customers. As recommendation plays a major role in purchase decision, other users’ advice as well as additional information about a product will be used more often on a brand’s’ social media channels. Even if it’s not forecasted for next year, it’s highly likely that it will soon be possible to buy directly via social media channels.
|By Soline Demenois – Junior PR & Marketing Manager|
Image Source: Getty Images